Archive for category Humanities

Edgar Snow Social Media Campaign Proposal

My Edgar Snow Social Media Campaign will combine everything I’ve learned through UMKC’s Public History Program thus far, including digital humanities, an introduction to GIS technology, Web 2.0 basics, and take advantage of resources through Creative Commons and Open Access. For that reason, my target audience for this campaign will be prospective additions to UMKC’s Public History Program. This includes, but is not limited to, UMKC students already in the History Department, UMKC students in other departments, students at community colleges, and prospective students not yet in college. For this campaign, the emphasis will be on the fact that UMKC public history students created the exhibit. My aim is to attract college students and prospective college students to the exhibit to showcase the UMKC Public History Program’s digital historian’s work. I think that a program that offers students the opportunity to actually create something with marketable skills can be a very attractive feature and it can also be a ‘hook’ to bring in an overlooked audience. This audience will be drawn to the exhibit for academic and career choice reasons. By attracting a broader, and perhaps neglected, audience the Edgar Snow Exhibit becomes more than just an exhibit–it will turn into inspiration that will draw prospective digital and public historians to our university and therefore, to the resources housed in that university. This includes the Edgar Snow Collection which will be housed in UMKC’s new reading room.

In order to reach my target audience I will be creating a Facebook page and a Twitter account that uses hash tags relevant to Kansas City students. The Edgar Snow Project and Exhibit will be front and center on both of these accounts as a way to advertise the upcoming event and also to showcase the public history student’s work on this project. I’ve chosen to title both the Facebook and Twitter pages The Edgar Snow Project and Exhibit to include the creative process. The idea is to promote UMKC’s Public History Program, as well, so, in addition to the Facebook page and Twitter account, links to other relevant UMKC Public History news and information will be made available through these sites.

As a way to truly showcase the student’s work and process, visitors to the Facebook page and Twitter account will be able to visit the student’s WordPress blogs. This will not only give visitors more information on Edgar Snow, it will give viewers and prospective public history students a glimpse into what they can learn in the UMKC Public History Program. Prospective students and those interested in digital humanities will be able to see a public/digital history course, first hand, through the student’s blog posts. By employing Web 2.0 structure and concepts, The Edgar Snow Project and Exhibit will serve as a platform for the UMKC Public History Program. By promoting one, we will also be promoting the other to bring in a more diverse audience.

Twitter will be the main mechanism of this social media campaign by employing the use of hash tags. Tweets like “Check out the Edgar Snow Project and Exhibit,” and “See what UMKC digital historians are up to,” as well as relevant links will be posted weekly with hash tags such as #mcckansascity or #mccpennvalley. These are a few of the Kansas City Metropolitan Community College’s Twitter hash tags. College students and prospective college students will be directed to the Facebook page where visitors will have access to more information about the Edgar Snow Exhibit, as well as the links to the student’s WordPress blogs. These blogs will continue to be updated on a regular basis and give visitors a “behind the scenes” look, if you will, into the work of a digital historian.

My social media campaign is designed to attract prospective public history students by inviting them to see the work of current public history students. Since the Edgar Snow Exhibit is an actual exhibit that will be live and fully functional, prospective students will get a taste of what they can expect in the UMKC Public History Program. I’ve chosen prospective public history students as my target audience because I think that people who already know who Edgar Snow is and why he is important to Kansas City and UMKC history will not require any additional “gimmicks” to come and see what this project is all about. At the same time, by targeting these potential public history students and offering them a glimpse into the making of this project, younger people–people who might not necessarily be interested in Edgar Snow but might be interested in the technology used to create the exhibit–will become interested in what else the UMKC Public History Program has to offer. The fact that the Edgar Snow Exhibit will be online, I think, will make it more attractive to a younger audience. In this case, by promoting digital history and the latest technology used to create the exhibit–the latest Neatline plug-in, for example–potential students will view the exhibit for inspiration and ideas, and perhaps walk away with a greater interest in digital history that may persuade them to keep the UMKC Public History Program in mind when it comes time for these young students to decide on a major or academic path.

The goal here is to bring in prospective students as well as an audience. My approach puts as much emphasis on the process of creating as on the content itself. In doing this, the Edgar Snow Exhibit becomes a tool for learning about more than history. This approach is interdisciplinary from the ground up because more than just history students will find the exhibit and creative process interesting. While my approach targets mainly college students, it can easily be expanded to include high school students, bloggers, journalists, life-long learners, weekend historians, hobbyists, technology buffs, etc. Additionally, I believe my campaign can also easily accompany other social media campaigns to broaden viewership.

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A Different Way to ‘Do History’

We’ve talked about digital history. Now let’s discuss spatial history, or better yet, the spatial humanities.What are the spatial humanities? It’s perhaps too abstract to adequately define, but, it is essentially another way of looking at, and presenting the humanities that involves abstract and physical space. I’ll use history as an example. Traditionally history has been presented through chronological events. Richard White from Stanford University suggests that won’t change, but by adding the ingredients necessary to help the reader or viewer visualize space, too, the historian provides a clearer picture of the past. Humanists can do the same, by utilizing GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology.

According to a recent book edited by David J. Bodenhamer, (read my book review here), The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship, the use of time and space can be maximized by implementing GIS technology into humanities scholarship. The Spatial History Project of Stanford University asserts that history is chronological, but GIS allows historians to give “a graphic representation of the interrelation of time and space.” (White, “What is Spatial History?”)  These sound like really great things. Historians and Humanists are always looking for ways to better represent the human condition throughout time. There are problems, however.

The biggest problem in implementing GIS technology into humanities scholarship, that I gathered from these two readings, is how to translate cold and uninterpretable numbers and data to the interpretable sources required for ‘doing history’–or humanities. Studying the human condition is an abstract science, unlike the science used for gathering the data for creating maps. So how can there be any sort of union between these two disciplines that are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum? The editors of The Spatial Humanities nail this problem when they suggest that perhaps a language that bridges these disciplines is necessary. (Bodenhammer, pp. 8) This language has not been invented yet which is why, I think, there is some concern with using GIS in humanities.

Finally, is spatial history digital history? It doesn’t have to be. Historians have long used information from maps to write books and articles without producing a single pixelated byte. Historians may continue to do just that, however, by taking advantage of GIS technology, they just might be able to add several dimensions to their work. And, for those adventurous historians and humanists that do go the length and harness the full power of GIS, good for you.

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